Saturday, February 27, 2016

Book Review: The Bells of Paradise

   Only a madman would go into Faerie of his own accord.

   The one thing John the blacksmith loves more than his peaceful, hardworking life in Middleton Dale is the tailor's free-spirited daughter Janet. But unlike John, Janet dreams of adventure beyond the Dale. And when her dreams lead her into Faerie to be captured by a dangerous witch, John realises he must dare the perilous realm of the Lordly Folk to free his bride.

   A poignant and profound retelling of the Grimms' fairytale Jorinda and Joringel, set in the fantastical realms of Elizabethan folklore. Novella, approximately 25,000 words.
— Synopsis from Goodreads

   I’ve never read a story quite like The Bells of Paradise, nor a character quite like John. John is the steadiest hero I have ever run across, and, truly, therein lies his greatness and heroism. He does not want fame or fortune, he is content to be a blacksmith in Middleton Dale and live his life married to the girl he loves, raise a family, and do honest work. But he loves Janet and when she is taken from him, he is willing to brave anything to bring her back, even the ever twisting and changing realm of faerie.

   Suzannah Rowntree has taken another fairytale I am unfamiliar with and made me fall in love with it. The lush historical setting of Tudor England and the eerie enchanted world of faerie turn out some of Rowntree’s finest writing. The supporting characters stand before you daring you decide whether they are friend or foe. Yet again, the author has managed to weave in a hint of allegory and strong theme without once detracting from the story, but enhancing it instead. Honestly, everything is so vivid and full of life in this story, I barely know how to put how much I loved it into words.

   I highly recommend picking up this latest addition to Ms. Rowntree’s fairytale retellings. This is not just a tale of adventure and heroism. In the words of another reviewer who summed it up just right, “It’s about the price of a cup of coffee, and gives you soul food that lasts much longer.”

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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